Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Nurofen: The Real Headache

The makers of the well-known pain-reliever Nurofen have been castigated for marketing various versions of the same ingredients and claiming that each is suitable for a different type of pain. I claim no particular medical knowledge but, as I understand it, pain is a chemical signal transmitted through the nervous system and perceived in the brain. Any pain relief product either acts directly on the cause (such as a sprained muscle) or suppresses the pain signals. Nurofen is one of the latter. It follows that it does not target any particular type of pain and therefore to say that it does is misleading. I'll go further. It is lying.

Naturally the PR people were quick to obfuscate.The head of regulatory and medical affairs in Europe was quoted thus:
Consumers want the navigation in a grocery environment, where there’s no healthcare professional to assist in the decision-making.
I am a consumer. I don't want to be "guided in a grocery environment" when buying pharmaceuticals. I will buy products I know (or, in light of this story, products I think I know) but in any case of doubt, I will ask my friendly local chemist. Who would probably guide me toward the cheapest, generic, form of the appropriate drug.

Nurofen works. I take it myself, about once every two years when I have a headache bad enough to justify taking something for it. But what am I really buying, a product carefully researched and developed to be the best, or an image, lovingly tended and buffed up by "creatives" with long hours spent on choosing the right pantone shade for the logo and the right phrase for the strapline? This link, to a Daily Mail article reviewing various painkillers and showing what is in them, may prove instructive.

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